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Parent Processes

Suppose I said that all people of a child-bearing age should be given mandatory contraceptives, and that they only be allowed to reproduce once they had completed a rigorous financial, criminal, intelligence, safety, and social screening process.  That the screening could result in mandated changes to the house, such as wiring upgrades, regardless of the cost those changes might incur.  That without submitting to interviews with a social worker, without completing an exhaustive application process, without becoming certified in infant/child CPR, without all of the preceding—nobody would be permitted to forgo the contraceptives and become a parent.  And suppose I said that after the child’s birth, a social worker would visit the new family for at least half a year—and if during that time the worker became concerned in any way for the child’s safety, or was sufficiently worried about the general conditions in the home, the worker could have the child taken away and assigned to another family.

What would you say?

Suppose I said that the process of adopting a child should be radically simplified, to the point that anyone giving up a child for adoption would just anonymously hand the child over to an agency, and that anyone who wanted a child would simply come into the agency and anonymously pick one up.  That there would be no more background investigations, no mandated education, no screening of any kind, no followup checks, no need for large amounts of money, no waiting—no barriers to becoming an adoptive parent save the initiative to go to the agency and walk out a parent.  That a child would simply be handed out to anyone who merely asked for one, no matter how unprepared or unqualified or unfit they might be for the job of parenting.

What would you say?

50 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 0934
    Joshua wrote in to say...

    Regarding the use of mandatory contraceptives; I’ve often thought that there should be a way to sterilize (albeit temporarily) children at birth. Then, once they’ve reached a point in life and are responsible enough to merit raising a child, met criteria such as you mentioned; a pill/injection/procedure can be performed allowing for the parents to reproduce. Of course, this would raise all sorts of hell in regards to who decides if another is ‘qualified’ to raise a child. Now your latter statement, sure it sounds unreasonable, imprudent and dangerous. But isn’t that the current criteria for non-adoptive child rearing?

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 0936
    Mike Dougherty wrote in to say...

    1. Our world would be a very different place. Seeing so many people with children who are so unprepared (financially, emotionally, etc) to have them makes me wish there were minimum competency tests. We need a license to drive a car, own a dog, or take fish from a local stream; but we have no rules governing reproduction.
    2. This wouldn’t be possible because the only people having children would want to keep them after passing all the tests in step 1.

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 0938
    Adam Slagle wrote in to say...

    You’ve hit on one of the problems with bringing government (or, for that matter, bringing any outside person) into your personal life.
    If you ask for anything substantive, that outside entity is going to feel like they now have a say in decisions. Sometimes they will confine themselves to the area in which you asked for assistance, but many times it won’t stop there. Earlier in my life, when I was young and foolish, I got into major problems with credit. I asked my father to bail me out. As a result, for many years he considered it his right to monitor my spending and give ‘advice’ on whether he thought my spending was justified or not.
    This is precisely what the government does with adoptions. Since the child is a ‘ward of the state’, the government feels compelled to make sure the adoptive parents are ‘ready’ for the admittedly serious job of child-rearing. The simple fact that no one can be truly ready for this job until it is thrust upon them is beside the point.
    I’m not saying that the dichotomy inherent in the situation is right, or that it is even resolvable. It just is.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 0943
    Aaron Gustafson wrote in to say...

    I agree that the disperity is pretty amazing. It’s quite a quandry and I’m not sure what the answer is (although, based on my observations in the real world, I don’t necessarily think that mandatory parental training for first-time parents is a bad thing).

    Another question I’ve always wondered is with regards to large families. Given the pressures of population growth and the innumerable “unwanted” children in the world, should there be a cap on how many children one family can naturally have? Should families who want more than that cap be required to adopt children without families of their own?

    Though we do not have children yet, my wife and I have often said that if we wanted more than two, we would prefer to adopt. Ethically, we just think it is the right thing to do. In fact, lately, we’ve even pondered the notion of just going the adoption route, but at this point it’s all conversation. We’ll see what the future brings.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 0953
    Polly Stark wrote in to say...

    Both statements are completely abhorant. I can see what you’re getting at – if both ‘alternatives’ are horrible, the issue cannot be resolved. But this just isn’t true.

    Scenario 1. The way to reduce the number of children born to unfit or unready parents is to go to the source. That is, educate children about what it means to have a child, and also educate them about how to avoid having a child they don’t want or can’t provide for.

    Scenario 2. Adoption is much, much trickier. I really don’t have any answers.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1026
    The Ferrett wrote in to say...

    You’re making some sort of point here, aren’t you?

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1027
    Sebastian Redl wrote in to say...

    I think Adam Slagle brought up an interesting point.

    If you had a child, and you had to give it away. If you had the means, wouldn’t you want to put the future parents through all kinds of tests to see if they’re fit to raise your child? To ensure that this child has the best possible future?
    Because that’s pretty much what the adoption rules are for. The government is responsible for these children, so they dictate under what circumstances they give up this responsibility.

    With reproduction, however, there is no entity giving away anything. Something entirely new is created. And disposal of this new thing is a very volatile ethical debate – basically, if I build a gun for myself, without a licence, the government can force me to give it up, because nothing bad will come from it. Can you simply give up a child? Can you ensure its well-being? A human being, unlike an inanimate weapon, has rights. You may be able to justify interfering with the parents, but can you justify interfering with the child? Can you, as an extreme example, justify mandatory abortion for, say, all girls below 14?

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1203
    Joshua wrote in to say...

    I don’t know that I could adequately justify mandatory abortions for girls under the age of 14; however, can it be justified that girls under the age of 14 are competent, mature and responsible enough to raise a child?

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1230
    Mike Purvis wrote in to say...

    … a rigorous financial, criminal, intelligence, safety, and social screening process.

    No matter how poor, destitute, and simple a person is, the joy of child-bearing is something they can still experience. It’s innate within a human…

    The Canadian government hands out welfare to just anybody; they haven’t got the foggiest clue how to tell the slackers from the motivated but unfortunate. Are we to expect that they’d do any better in analysing the financial situation of someone ready to raise kids?

    The thought of one’s ability to have a child being judged on an arbitrary metric by a faceless government terrifies me.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1251
    Damien wrote in to say...

    As the parent to a wonderful home grown 23-month-old I feel for everyone going through the adoption process. I do agree that much more should be done regarding education, specifically educating young teenagers about the birth process itself (imaging showing a video of a birth to 14 year olds), and also promoting groups like La Leche League and other family-centric organizations (think “Mothering” magazine versus “Parenting” magazine). Being a parent is one of the most wonderful, scary, exhilerating and important parts of being alive, its really terrible how American society doesn’t promote many healthy practices, like midwifery, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, etc, instead focuses so heavily on invasive and destructive practices (cesarean sections, hospital births, separate baby rooms, bottle feeding, etc).

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1309
    Dan wrote in to say...

    Aaron :: “Unwanted” children are a definite reason to adopt; fear of a population explosion is not. Google “graying Europe” for many discussions of this phenomena.

    What was once regarded universally as a cherished goal — incredibly low birth rates — have in the industrial world at least suddenly become a cause for alarm. With life expectancy rising at the same time that fertility drops, most developed countries may soon find themselves with lopsided societies that will be nearly impossible to sustain: a large number of elderly and not enough young people working to support them. The change will affect every program — from health care and education to pension plans and military spending — that requires public funds.

    There is no longer a single country in Europe where people are having enough children to replace themselves when they die.

    I think it should be easier to adopt.

    • #12
    • Pingback
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1315
    Received from MicheeRose.com » Blog Archive » Just needed to point this out…

    [...] s out… Posted in opinion, updates on September 28th, 2005 Eric Meyer commented today about the processes (i.e. red tape) involved in adopting children [...]

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1325
    Jason wrote in to say...

    These are classic examples of too much regulation versus not enough, but adds nice ethical slant to add some feelings to it. I’d say that the first issue would infringe too much on people’s ‘right’ to reproduce. Theoretically I am in favor of limiting who can and can’t have children (welfare recipients, felons need not apply) but I don’t see it clicking with the current moral (read religious) slant of the country. That being said, I think the adoption process is broken, but I’m not sure that’s the second option is the correct approach to fixing it.

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1352
    Adam Rice wrote in to say...

    Fascinating thought-experiment. I don’t have any answers, but here’s another fun question to kick around.

    Suppose it were medically trivial to implant a switch in all newborn children that controlled their fertility, and the switch was set to “off.” The key to this switch was given to the parents, who could then assign it to the children or some other entity.

    Some parents might assign the key to their church. Some churches might require the child meet strict conditions to have the switch flipped on. Other churches might turn on the switch immediately, reasoning that any form of birth control is bad. Some parents might hang on to the key even after the child achieved majority, and refuse to give it up. Some might unlock the switch on minors.

    • #15
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1405
    Mat wrote in to say...

    Like the angle.

    I think this highlights how, especially in this modern age, ideals are redundant.

    The present approach – a pragmatic one – is where you have to judge natural parents after the fact – childern can be taken from bad parents, and adopting parent before the fact. If there weren’t enough adopters and no state childcare I’d prefer to see your hypothetical than see children living out in the streets.

    You cannot create static rules to govern people’s lives, you need people to do that. This is why I thikn R.M.Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance) and all the great philosophers he borrowed from who socrate about values are so important. You need to ensure the watchmen are the right watchmen – and democracy is, I believe, the best way to do this.

    It’s the same with politics. We don’t need idealists, we need pragmatic approaches to a rapidly changing world. So how do you know who to vote for? Well that’s why it has turned into a personality game. (Answer b: Anyone but Bush) And a good job too I say, I don’t judge a man on what he says he’ll do but rather his character and past actions.

    Oops, I’m rambling.

    • #16
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1533
    Ben wrote in to say...

    To the second, I would say: “Are you completely mad??”. Bringing up an adopted child is so completely different to bringing up a child which is genetically yours… The difficulties that child will face are so huge, that not to try and make the family they are place with as stable and secure as possible would be downright cruel. Yes, it might seem unfair (to the adoptive parents) – think about the adopted child.

    Don’t have any answer to the first, apart from that in the West a decreasing population is a real issue.

    • #17
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1544
    Ara Pehlivanian wrote in to say...

    Well, concerning the contraception and background checks: it’s a very tempting idea since a lot of people aren’t qualified to be parents and totally screw up their kids. But then, who’s to judge? It’s a very dangerous proposition bordering on totalitarianism. But I do advocate social programs that teach people how to parent. And even programs that support parents in that role. I also think that society needs to make sure that irresponsible parents who endager the lives of children need to be kept in check.

    As for making adoption easier, as long as the people who are adopting are checked out so that the child can be sure to have a safe home with responsible parents (see issue #1) then make it easier. Red tape sucks man. Especially when there are tons of kids and tons of potential parents who are only waiting for a bureaucracy to hook them up.

    • #18
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1629
    Dougal Campbell wrote in to say...

    I would say that there’s room for a solution in the middle-ground.

    I’d also wonder if you, like my family, have been looking into adopting a pet.

    The pet adoption groups seem to all scream “adopt this cute doggie now, or he’s DOOMED to be put to sleep!”. But then they want you to fill out detailed application forms, pay an “adoption fee” that is as much as you’d pay for a purebred puppy from a breeder, and perform inspections of your home.

    As my wife observed the other day, we had less trouble bringing our daughter home from the hospital than we’re having trying to get a dog.

    • #19
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1717
    Liz Calkins wrote in to say...

    Hmm. Maybe it’s just my interpretation, but I get the feeling that some people are missing to what me seems to be the point:

    Namely, that the situation is currently reversed. Trying to adopt any of the currently unwanted children means going through lots of hoops and hurdles. And yet, any idiot who has just enough IQ to stick the right part into the right receptable can produce a child.

    But when we turn the matter on its head, suddenly people get outraged at the thought of a child adopted by anyone who asks for it. So it’s OK for children to be naturally produced by anyone who wants to (or even doesn’t want to and gets pregnant accidentally), but it’s not OK for already borne children to be given away to anyone who wants one?

    An interesting thought experiment indeed. ;)

    (For what it’s worth, I’m a bit similar to Mr. Dougherty’s opinion… that #1 is a good idea and #2 would then become mostly irrelevant.)

    • #20
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1825
    Mark Kawakami wrote in to say...

    Wow, this sure made me stop and think. I mean, not about seriously considering either hypothetical proposition, they’re obviously both intended to be unacceptable extremes. But it’s staggering to see that the process of becoming a parent for one group of people is so radically different from the process for another.

    • #21
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1855
    Alex wrote in to say...

    From Mark’s comment (#19), I don’t believe either of Eric’s suggestions is an “unacceptable extreme”, as they are the current state of the inverse – that is, point 1 being the reality for anyone facing adoption and point 2 the reality (effectively) for any two idiots who can “pop out a kid” – not meaning to be disparaging there; hopefully you know what I mean… Having seen what’s required of some of my friends, and not being able to have kids ourselves, has even brought my wife and I at times to ask the exact questions Eric’s posed in this post (often half in jest… but only half).

    • #22
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1858
    Jeremy Arnold wrote in to say...

    It seems that in this PC world that several things are happening.
    Many parents are expecting their children to be “little adults”, this is prevalent in the upper middle classes.

    Then there are those who simply don’t know how to disipline their children. Again PC attitudes are really the culperate here. Thee FASTEST way for any person to learn NOT to do something is through PAIN. This is a proven scientific fact. Yet how to correctly apply this simple piece of knowledge to parenting is lost on many parents who think “Well I’m not ment to smack my child”

    Decipline is only one small aspect of bringing up a child and so many people are failing to get this right. I’m actually kinda scared to see what these people are like when they grow up.

    Trainning courses for people having children … excellent idea …

    • #23
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 1958
    Aaron Cormier wrote in to say...

    So, you want to get rid of the beuorcracy, do you? Hmmm.

    • #24
    • Comment
    • Wed 28 Sep 2005
    • 2103
    John Barstow wrote in to say...

    Well, in New Zealand there’s what I would consider a reasonable middle ground with regards to the first. I have no idea what adopters have to go through.

    Pregnancy and childbirth is a cost covered by the government, and includes monitoring by a midwife or nurse before the birth, an array of tests, and prenatal courses for the parents. The midwife or nurse continues to pay visits during the first six months.

    When a child is born, the family gets regular visits (that drop in frequency over time) from a registered nurse, from “Parents as First Teachers”, from the Plunkett society, and the parents are given a booklet that all medical providers record details in. In addition, they are hooked up to whatever social services they need (including maternal mental health).

    While this is still after-the-fact monitoring, it’s incredibly helpful to new parents and should put even the unprepared on the right track. It’s by no means perfect, but it flags potential problems early and makes sure natural parents have the tools and training they need to make good decisions (of course plenty of people still make bad ones).

    On top of all that, parents can choose to pay for additional services – we have private clinics and the like for those who want them.

    • #25
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 0025
    Kevin Michael Hamm wrote in to say...

    Well, the only point I have to make is from my own life: My sister was on a great path to becoming a complete failure – and that’s what anyone who knew her life would say. However, she got pregnant, gave up the foolishness and got educated, got a career and changed her life. She did it because of her daughter, who is a lovely child of 10, and you’d never know that the mother that raises my niece was well on the way to being the sister I didn’t talk to… so sometimes the simple fact of the pregnancy can effect the changes your first point declares.

    And the second point is even worse. Let me go back to the late 60′s when my mother and uncle were being passed between various extended families as they weren’t quite ‘wanted’. The government didn’t care in the least because, ostensibly, they were ‘with family’ but were treated to conditions close to slavery. Think of Harry Potter’s condition, but without the magic. So we know that won’t work either. However, what else can we expect?

    • #26
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 0529
    Small Paul wrote in to say...

    I think I’d say that the price of freedom is accepting that people can screw things up royally: I could kill someone driving a car, and the next guy on the bus could have a child and do them a lot of damage.

    I’d then say that whilst there’s a right to have a child, once the state (or an adoption agency, or anyone) is responsible for the welfare of a child, they shouldn’t give up that responsibility without checking that the person to whom they’re giving it up is up to the job.

    I guess I’m saying that adopting (where someone’s already taking care of the child) and having a child (where the child doesn’t exist yet) are two different things. One’s a Human Right, and one isn’t.

    • #27
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 0840
    Trent wrote in to say...

    The decision of who should have children and under what conditions is very culturally biased.

    For example, if a 15-year-old poor inner city black girl came up to you and requested permission to have a baby, would you grant it to her? Probably not. However, it may make a lot of sense for that girl to have a baby at 15. Her mother is still young and can help. She’s still healthy. She can get her diploma while being a single mother (not easy, but possible), wheras if she was in her 20′s and had some junk job, I doubt she’d get maternity leave. Of course, the child will be ~5 once she enters her 20′s, but 5 year olds are less demanding than newborn babies (YES, a 5-year-old requires care by someone, but not at that constant life-or-death level like a newborn).

    • #28
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 1105
    Kimberly wrote in to say...

    As an elementary school teacher, I’ve said many times that there should be mandatory birth control until passing some sort of screening. I think this would eliminate a lot of the other issues that have been brought up in this conversation. For example, it would obviously be a cultural disaster to limit parenthood to those in middle-class and up, but with fewer people having children they can’t afford to raise and don’t necessarily want, our overburdened welfare system could provide more complete care for otherwise good parents struggling financially. I also think that many “bad” parents are bad parents because of circumstance; for example, teenage parents who aren’t emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. prepared to be parents. If people could have the ability to choose when they are ready to have children (without feeling judged and criticized by society/religion/family), we would obviously have much less of a problem with inept parents.

    Mike Purvis said: “The thought of one’s ability to have a child being judged on an arbitrary metric by a faceless government terrifies me.”
    I agree with that statement, but you are ignoring that family services in our country are NOT “faceless government” but dedicated, trained professionals who dedicate massive amounts of their time and energy for very low salaries, and are currently completely overloaded with cases. Imagine a job where you just wanted to help the children you encounter, but every time you fix one problem three more arise. If our country took a more proactive approach to this problem (mandatory birth control), the people involved in social services would have the time to be able to work with these cases on a more personal level, putting a face on “faceless government.”

    All that being said, I must concede that our country is nowhere near ready for such a radical approach, due largely in part to, as Jason said, “the current moral (read religious) slant of the country.” This being the case, I agree with Polly that the most realistic approach at this time is to make pregnancy prevention AND parenting information more available, especially to the populations that are most at risk for young pregnancies. I teach in a state that still has an abstinance-only sex education program, which is oblivious and ignorant in this day and age. Some conservative thinkers are afraid that teaching young people to have sex safely will increase the likelihood of them having sex, but I’m more comfortable with those odds than the logic that pretending they aren’t having sex will protect them from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

    • #29
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 1432
    Matthew wrote in to say...

    I have always been amazed at the trials it takes to adopt a child in the US. My wife and I went down that path once and aside from the incredible investigation into our lives, I was appalled at the enormous costs to us to adopt a child. I understand that the costs to the social system requires funding to pair children with willing parents, but the cost associated with our experience went to attorneys. Thousands, into the tens of thousands of dollars, going to attorneys. The adoption process in America has very little to do with the benefit of the child and just is another bureaucratic process where large organizations can make money.

    BTW it is interesting that many of the posts have taken the personal rights issues to force/require qualifications for having children and less to the ridiculous demands placed upong willing adoptive parents.

    • #30
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 1708
    Dave Mohrman wrote in to say...

    I’ve always said that you’re not having a “baby” or raising a “child” but rather, a “Person”. I think that – in our society at least – there is this paradigm that children are essentially possessions until they reach the legal status of independence. Perhaps because as parents or legal guardians, we have responsibility for them and their actions until that time and we spend a major part of our resources – money and time – in their development therefore, they “belong” to us until then.

    So, in both of Eric’s hypothetical situations this is one of the critical ethical issues not implicitly factored in each question — particularly the second.

    In the first situation, we would be condoning a very dictatorial and fascist system of control over reproductive rights at the very least. However, I think the idea of comprehensive and widely available education about the responsibilities and necessities of parenting and “people-rearing” is a great idea and should be supported as a high priority by our society, but not mandated or regulated as if the child were a car or a gun as were given as similar examples.

    The second situation fills me with horror. Again, we”re talking about People here – not Pokemon cards.

    What Eric has done here is to transplant the processes for adopting upon the process of traditional childbirth and vise versa, in an interesting exercise in looking at both situations and to generate some discussion, contemplation of both. Well done too.

    Here”s the scary thing, I bet if we looked around, somewhere in this world these situations are currently in practice.

    • #31
    • Comment
    • Thu 29 Sep 2005
    • 1805
    Jack Burman wrote in to say...

    How far should a society take the regulation of human behaviour? How about: “You don’t participate in society’s benefits unless you play be certain basic rules”? The most fundamental rule should be to take responsibility for your self – for your entire life. If you do that, you may participate in some of the benefits a large population can provide, where one person alone cannot.
    Eric’s ideas for assuring that a child has a good chance of becoming a healthy adult are good ones. I think the responsibility for seeing that that happens could be that of the parents of the prospective parents – that is the newborn’s grandparents. All of those requirements could be guaranteed by the grandparents. If there was a breakdown in the rearing of the child, it would be the responsibility of the grandparents to correct, and not you and I (not the government). Sounds outrageous at first glance, but it would only require a change in attitude and behaviour – personal conduct.
    If an entire family unit were responsible for the child, selecting a new set of parents in cases where that was the best solution for the child, would be a matter of arrangement between consenting, responsible adults – like the transfer of other items and possessions. It would then be the new family unit who must assure that the child be safely raised. It’s hard to think of a child as belonging to someone, but doesn’t it make more sense that a child belong to a family than to a government?

    • #32
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 0222
    Dave wrote in to say...

    Here’s an interesting, and equally scary, example of where the government is interfering with population growth. In a number of countries the government subsidises the birth of a child when it feels that an increase in population is required. It seems to be a recurring method of trying to increase population, along with trying to increase immigration.

    I know it sounds a bit snobbish, but the only result these subsidies seem to have is an increase in the lower socio-economic ranged population, skewing in turn the natural build up of a country’s economy. Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with an increase in any section of the population, but an unnatural increase is never good (same goes for immigration as a matter of fact), especially not if you think you can chuck a bonus at a problem without providing (increased) adequate health care and child care support.

    In short, I believe the government should refrain from ‘over-managing’ its population. However, that goes hand-in-hand with the population taking more responsibility for their actions (bit of a vicious cycle isn’t it). As usual, a balance would be nice..

    • #33
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 0655
    Small Paul wrote in to say...

    Oh, by the way, the idea of compulsory birth control terrifies me. Because in my opinion (as I stated above) having a child is a Human Right, the idea of people going to prison for not taking the pill, or having their “unpermitted” children taken away from them, scares the willies out of me.

    • #34
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 1132
    Keith Burgin wrote in to say...

    Well, although it doesn’t sound like it, the comparison between the two is apples and oranges.

    Reproduction is a human function. As clearly demonstrated by our attitude on abortion, the majority of Americans do not support government regulation of a person’s body. Right or wrong, a human being has the right to reproduce, if they can find a partner to help them.

    Adoption, on the other hand, is applying for a child who was not born to you – and who is currently in the custody of an agency who is charged with his/her safety. The checks they make are all geared toward fulfilling this obligation. This life is currently under protection – not simply brought into the world.

    This is two seperate issues, in my opinion. Do I think some people should not be parents? Absolutely. Who gets to make that decision, and based upon what criteria?

    Do I think agencies should research prospective adoptive parents before handing over a child under their protection? Absolutely. It is their responsibility to be sure that the child under their protection is continued to be protected and cared for.

    Just my opinion.

    • #35
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 1242
    Jeff Carr wrote in to say...

    I believe that the first option is closer to happening than most people would believe.

    The fact that a selection process is already in place for adoption creates a precedent in western nations, and China is already putting controls on birth rates. If China is able to maintain the level of social control that they’re attempting to, they will be in the position to be able to bring it to fruition as their economy and technology improves (which is happening rapidly).

    I also believe that it is inevitable if our species is to survive. Natural selection removes the undesirable genetic mutations from our species, but we are continually coming up with new methods of keeping people alive who otherwise wouldn’t be able to. (As an example, I wouldn’t be able to survive without glasses, nor would I have survived long without a surgery in my childhood. Both are genetic traits that have been passed to me, and I’ll likely pass on myself.)

    Fertility treatments are what I believe will bring the first scenario to western nations. Through fertility treatments we are allowing the propagation of genes that wouldn’t normally allow people to breed at all. The types of infertility that are hereditary traits, will become more widespread over time, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if controls are put on fertility treatments that are similar to the controls on adoption, especially in countries with government health care. From there, I can see where undesirable genes (especially ones requiring expensive surgery or extended care) would be weeded out as well. And so it goes…

    • #36
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 1317
    Sean O'Brien wrote in to say...

    Interesting questions. The most importand job anyone can have – raising a child, is considered a “Human Right” by many, but we have to get a license to drive a car, build a house, or do a number of other things, all of which are nearly meaningless when compared to raising a child.

    The benefits mandatory contraception, licensing and oversight in child-rearing are something society could benefit greatly from. This is true not just from a social standpoint, but from an environmental standpoint as well. Our rapidly expanding population is the main factor in problems like global warming and the exhaustion of the world’s resources.

    However,there is a problem:

    Who makes the rules? Who decides how safe a parent’s house is? The way our society works now, the rich make the rules, often to the detriment of the average citizen. If we lived in a truly democratic society, and those rules could be arrived at by consensus, with the common good in mind, perhaps such a policy would be feasable. Of course that would depend on common people making rational decisions, which clearly doesn’t happen very often, at least in the political sphere (Bush elected to a second term???)

    Anyway, these are complicated questions, with no easy anwers.

    • #37
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 1620
    Passerby wrote in to say...

    The thing I find most interesting about this post is how blinded some people are to your thought experiment. It took 19 comments for someone to figure out/mention that you are really talking about the current methods of having/getting/raising kids but reversed.

    Well, I know what you’re talking about. I am a 2 time adoptive parent. All the gov’t red tape is worth it in the end, and you’ll always know you worked and suffered for something that your nextdoor neighbor may have done without thinking at all.

    Push through it toward the goal.

    • #38
    • Comment
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005
    • 1819
    grumpY! wrote in to say...

    reads like 1984, literally a nightmare scenario. look at past history of govt eugenics projects to see the logical conclsuion to these policies. the day the govt start issuing childbirth licenses, they will also have to start performing forced sterilizations. is this a world you want to live in?

    • #39
    • Comment
    • Mon 3 Oct 2005
    • 1451
    Dean Edwards wrote in to say...

    O brave new world…

    • #40
    • Comment
    • Tue 4 Oct 2005
    • 2116
    john allsopp wrote in to say...

    Eric,

    its happened

    http://www.boingboing.net/2005/10/04/bizarre_proposed_ind.html

    john

    • #41
    • Comment
    • Wed 5 Oct 2005
    • 0954
    Faris wrote in to say...

    I’d say your icon’s ugly.

    • #42
    • Comment
    • Thu 6 Oct 2005
    • 0418
    Michael C. wrote in to say...

    IMHO, the job of training potential parents to be good parents lies not with the government or federal something-or-another, but with that person’s parents, when that person was being brought up. Why would anyone think that training for life (as opposed to training for a job position, i.e. school education) should be placed into the hands of anyone except the parents? Yes, there are “good” parents and there are “bad” parents. But there is also a pattern of children seeing everything their parents did wrong, and vowing to do those things right by their own children. Granted, there are always the exceptions (which we hear about the most, for obvious reasons) where “bad” parentage seems to twist and corrupt a person, causing them to rebel against whoever and whatever they can. But those are exceptions, not rules.

    • #43
    • Comment
    • Thu 6 Oct 2005
    • 0522
    beentheredonethat wrote in to say...

    First off, in the U.S., anyway, private adoption is very different from state adoption. If you’ve got enough money, you can basically bypass all the backgrounding … the more money, the more bypassing. And yep, most of that money goes to attorneys.

    In contrast, you can’t buy your way through a state adoption. HOWEVER, and not a lot of people know this, if you adopt a kid through the foster care (state) system, the state will pay you a stipend every month until the kid reaches majority. How much of a stipend depends on you and the kid. Title IV-E funds. Federal. All states participate. Some states also guarantee free college tuition to children adopted through foster care, presuming they ever become college material, and damn few do.

    • #44
    • Comment
    • Thu 6 Oct 2005
    • 2253
    Faris wrote in to say...

    I’m serious, what is that some kind of Zeldman ripoff? It’s hideous, and not worthy of your skill. I don’t like Zeldman’s fav-icon either, he hasn’t looked like a Grunge for 15 years at least, don’t degrade yourself by doing a lame imitation of a farce.

    • #45
    • Comment
    • Sat 8 Oct 2005
    • 0833
    Laurens Holst wrote in to say...

    Suppose that those background investigations which seem desirable included the sexuality of the adoption parents, and finds homosexuality sufficient reason to deny any adoption request. What would you say?

    Oh wait, that”s what happening now.

    ~Grauw

    • #46
    • Comment
    • Sat 8 Oct 2005
    • 2054
    Kate N. wrote in to say...

    I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s views and opinions, particularly in light of the fact that the issue up for discussion is such a volatile one. As a parent and a Paramedic, I’ve seen, and dealt with, all manner of humankind, some so profoundly cruel they would make even the most harden life form run the other way.

    I’ve seen families, generation upon generation, struggling to stay alive in unadulterated filth and squalor – of which isn’t, for the most part, entirely their own fault. Money has a vicious bite to it and the perpetual lack of it more so. I’ve seen wealth in the most ostentatious forms and the tangible detachment, emptiness that seemingly cripples those who attempt to reside – survive – in this wondrous shiny environment and unquestionably fail.

    The lack of wealth isn”t the catchall to this issue. The adoption policies as they stand – in my own country at least – are based, I believe, on the traditional and archaic views of those who were once “Social Reformers”. The idealistic assumption that “money” is the ultimate – indeed, the only – factor in safe guarding a child”s life is ridiculous as it is absurd.

    Wealth doesn”t automatically propagate better parents – it just promotes more choices in life. Likewise, the assumption that those of lesser means are innately bad, awful and abusive is preposterous, as too the hypothesis that wealthier families are infinitely caring, loving and considerate.

    While I agree for the most part that a person”s “age” is generally systemic in the ability to rear children properly, I don”t agree that one”s age should be deemed essential criteria when it comes to the rights of reproduction and nurturing children.

    I”ve seen many underage parents – 12, 13 & 14 year olds – care for their children with far greater emphasis on love, cleanliness and protection than a fifty year old financial broker whose primary motivation in life is crawling out of bed was so he can score another hit.

    • #47
    • Comment
    • Mon 10 Oct 2005
    • 0137
    beth wrote in to say...

    My long ago training in biology makes me concerned along the lines of Jeff – fertility treatments that introduce the possibility of passing on genes that wouldn’t normally be passed on. And then having to care for the people who result from this.

    As a parent – I know that nobody is truly prepared for the job… I have 3 adult children and I vivdly remember leaving the hospital with my oldest and thinking “Are they CRAZY! They are letting me take this child home!”

    And as a child, I also know that even children who grow up in homes where at least one parent is a disaster [read practicing alcoholic] can turn out pretty good.

    As far as forced contraception goes – that’s scary for all of the reasons mentioned by other commentors before me. But also because is goes against our very nature. All living things are driven at some level to procreate – otherwise, the species dies out.

    And, as a person and a Christian, I also have learned that humans aren’t always the best judge of how a person will turn out.As a whole, we’re just not qualified. We don’t see the big picture and we are way to enthralled with money.

    • #48
    • Comment
    • Mon 10 Oct 2005
    • 1716
    Robert wrote in to say...

    If the government serves any role in setting up the adoption, wouldn’t they have a duty (not a right, note the difference) to make sure the person(s) adopting were qualified to take the child?

    The matter of defining what constitutes “qualified” is why we have the mess we do.

    • #49
    • Comment
    • Tue 11 Oct 2005
    • 2049
    Derek Pennycuff wrote in to say...

    i lean more towards the qualfying to be a parent extreme than the free kids for everyone extreme. but i think education is a much better cure for our social ills than beurocracy. call me an idealist.

    • #50
    • Comment
    • Sun 16 Oct 2005
    • 0333
    Lemi4 aka. fERDI:) wrote in to say...

    Umm… I don’t know, but I think I saw this movie once; it was made in the sixties…

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